Minimum Wage, and Galen Weston

Here you will find that Galen Weston made some 8.5 million dollars two years ago. His most recent salary is, I believe, over nine million dollars.

Galen would have us believe that the new minimum wage will put his company in difficulty. Some $190 million per year in extra expense. Let me quote a few parts of that article. Emphasis mine.

“We are flagging a significant set of financial headwinds and the organization is mobilizing all of its resources to see whether or not it can close that gap,” Loblaw chair and CEO Galen Weston Jr. told analysts during a quarterly earnings conference call.

Earlier Wednesday, Loblaw reported a second-quarter profit attributable to shareholders of $358 million, or 89 cents per diluted share, up from its profit of $158 million or 39 cents per diluted share a year ago.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for thinking that Galen Weston and his company can afford to pay his employees a living wage.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for suspecting that the $190 million is not a deliberate underestimate. I’ll bet it’s worst possible case.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for noting that the year over year difference in profit is $200 million, and that’s for a quarter – not the whole year. So they have $610 million extra after covering the minumum wage hike.

I used to like Galen Weston. Oh well. Have a nice day.

Pope Francis: Challenges

There are four persons of interest here. Let me start at the top, with Pope Francis.

I am not Catholic, although I volunteered twice a week at a Catholic charity. For twelve years. I respect the faith of others. I deeply appreciate this Pope’s rapprochement where others want to exclude, to use Francis’ own words, the less perfect.

We may not remember the scandal at the Vatican Bank, where it was actually claimed that money launderers used that facility to conceal and move ill-gotten gains. From what I recall in the news, those claims likely had merit. And, to fix the problem, Francis installed Cardinal Pell as his top financial adviser – the third most powerful Catholic in the world.

Pell is our second Person of Interest. He did seem to be cleaning up the Bank quite nicely. There is a problem, though, and Pell is being accused of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse, and apparently lately, to perhaps having committed some himself.

A year ago Pell refused to travel back to Australia where he was Archbishop at the time of the alleged offences and coverups. His health prevented this. Apparently his health could prevent him from attending the preliminary hearing as well (see above hotlink.)

Our third person of interest is Tim Minchin, who over a year ago posted a video of a song which he wrote challenging Pell to ‘Come Home’ to Ballarat in Australia. Apparently Minchin donated proceeds to help the abused and their relatives to travel to Italy to watch the proceedings. My memory is, they weren’t allowed in and watched via closed circuit TV.

Our fourth person of interest is another Catholic. Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller will not have his five-year mandate as Catholicism’s chief theologian renewed. Müller was appointed by Benedict in 2012 and needs (and won’t get) renewal when five years is up.

Apparently (read the hotlinked article, eh?) Müller has been a bit of a thorn in Francis’ side. Here’s a few quotes from the article. Emphasis mine.

The two did not see eye-to-eye, with Cardinal Müller questioning Pope Francis’s attempts to being more open to “imperfect” Catholics, like those who are divorced.

Earlier this year, a victim of sexual abuse within the Church accused Cardinal Müller’s department of impeding the Pontiff’s efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.

Müller is (was, actually) the second most powerful Catholic in the world.

Tim Minchin is still Tim Minchin.

Luckily, Francis is still, so far as I can tell, exactly what he’s always claimed to be:

  • the front face of reconciliation for Catholics who are imperfect.
  • financially incorruptible, and trying to clean house where needed.
  • sensitive to abuse: it should be stopped, and covering it up prevents that.

May God have mercy on us all. Pope Francis could use a little help here, too, imho.

James Comey: symptom of ??

Here you will find a UK page on the firing of FBI Director James Comey. By, of course, POTUS Donald Trump.

I will content myself with a few observations. You can read the article by clicking the above hotlink.

Insiders think Comey was fired because he was closing in on Trump and Trump associates with connections to Russia.

Trump said Comey was fired because he messed up the handling of Hilary Clinton’s private eMail server. I won’t bother doing the search, but you can check out this claim: at the time, Trump praised Comey for damaging Hilary.

Comey asked for more resources, and went from weekly to daily updates.

Some commentators and newspapers, including The New York Times, have suggested the President disposed of Mr Comey in a frantic bid to prevent his own impeachment.
That is a quote.

The Pledge of Allegiance has had several small tweaks, as you can find in Wikipedia. Here is one version:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Unfortunately, when I say it in my head, I hear the ending as:

libertine justice, for all?

For American readers: are you feeling a growing sense of unease here?

For Trump supporters, is there any conceivable evidence that would shake your undying support for your current President?

For readers (not many, eh?) in other countries, does the current ‘stability’ of the USA let you sleep soundly?

What does it mean when a President fires the head of an agency investigating: questions about his associates, his election (was it manipulated by the Russians), and his former National Security Advisor?

Comey went gentle into that good night. Here’s a final quote:

Mr Comey has not given any interviews since his dismissal, but said in a farewell letter to his colleagues at the FBI: “I have long believed that a president can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend any time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done.”

A final dumb question: do you think Comey is going to be silent forever?

A Telling Show

Today we have two persons of interest.

I am a writer. One thing all writers should think about is ‘Show not Tell.’ For a fine explanation of that, go here and see how Shirley Jump explains it.

The second person of interest, fascination even, is Donald Trump.

Here is one place where some of Trump’s tweets have been gathered. I’ll select just a few words to show that Trump is telling.

  • Mainstream (FAKE) media
  • China & its highly respected President
  • We are making tremendous progress
  • Terrible!
  • Relationships are good-deal very possible!
  • Sad!
  • The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.
  • First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!

I could go on, but if you go through the above list, you’ll probably agree that most, if not all, the italicized words (emphasis mine) are not substantiated with any facts.

We’ve been told. It’s a telling show.

Jeff Sessions: a message, eh?

Here you will find a bbc news article about Jeff Sessions and his complaint.

I will tease you with a few quotes. Emphasis mine.

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power,” he said on The Mark Levin Show.

Senator Mazie Hirono shared an image of the unanimous Senate vote that confirmed Judge Waston, which “includes a ‘yea’ vote” from Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect,” Senator Brian Schatz continued.

“Please don’t dis[respect] Hawaii as it gives us papaya, coffee, helicopter parts and the last competent president,” another continued.

One Illinois resident added: “We should let @jeffsessions know that New Mexico is a state too. Otherwise the wall might get built in the wrong place.”

Now for the dumb questions. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Has Trump turned much of the US government into a say-anything thoughtless herd?

Does Jeff Sessions know who he is and who he voted for?

Does any of this matter, at least in the rule-by-twitter era?

Kushner, and Great Companies

Jared Kushner doesn’t get it. Here‘s an obscure (to me) news source that echoes what I’ve seen elsewhere, including the Toronto Star. I’ll give a few quotes, emphasis mine.

This assumption is widespread in American politics: that competence in business translates to competence in politics. In 2012, during his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney said he’d like a provision in in the Constitution to “say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.” But is there any evidence for this belief? Historians haven’t found any.

Sean Illing Let me start by reading you a recent quote from Jared Kushner: “We should have excellence in government. … The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”I’m not sure the axiom that business and politics are equivalent can be expressed more clearly than this. What’s your response?

Gautam MukundaThe government should be run as well as a great American company, but that’s profoundly different from saying it should be run like a great American company — those are two completely different things.The first and most obvious problem with that is that American citizens are not customers. Someone has to tell Jared Kushner that citizens are his boss, not his customers. When you’ve inherited your job, that might be difficult to understand, but it’s an important idea.

Gautam Mukunda It’s not that there are no skills in common. If you asked me, would the CEO of a randomly selected, highly successful company do a better job as president than a person you selected at random off the street, I’d say yes. But we don’t, the most recent election excepted, select our presidents at random off the street. We select them from a pool of people who have been governors or senators or congresspeople. So that’s your comparison set.Now let’s talk about the differences between running a democracy and a company, which are profound. First, there are differences in ends. Companies are supposed to run at a profit. If your government is running at a profit, you have a problem; it’s not an indicator of success. More broadly, almost all companies have a level of authority that flows upward that much more resembles a dictatorship than a democracy.

Kushner is a number of interesting ‘things.’ He’s the husband of Ivanka Trump, whose nude photos came out during the campaign. (I’d hate to have a beautiful wife whose erogenous zones are on public display.)
He’s an unpaid white house occupant who has not distanced himself from his businesses, much like his father-in-law.

He’s today’s person of interest.

Health Care Myths

At one point, Ronald Regan was used to claim that Canadian health care was, er, crap. This is, of course, totally untrue.

At one point, the infant mortality rate in the USA was equal to that in Cuba. I think Cuba has done better since.

Now for a comparison between Canadian and American health care. Ready? Emphasis mine.

Canadians living with cystic fibrosis lived on average 10 years longer than Americans with the same disease, in part because of the very different healthcare systems in the two countries, the study found.

When severity of disease, age and other variables were taken into account, Canadians had a 34% lower death rate than American patients overall.

Ms Brotherwood spent three years working in a cystic fibrosis clinic in Los Angeles, after working at Dr Stephenson’s clinic in Toronto. The differences, she says, were striking. “In Canada, I make clinical decisions. I look at their case and I decide whether or not they would benefit from meeting with me. There, the decision is driven by their insurance,” she says. Ms Brotherwood says she had to forgo seeing patients who were in real need, just because they did not have the coverage.

Even when they were insured, high co-pays meant that some families had to reduce the amount of medication they used, or avoid going to the hospital, she says. Many researchers have suggested that this profit motive, and the strain it puts on families, may be to blame for the average lower life expectancy in the US.

Now go listen to The Donald and how he’s going to ‘fix’ health care in the USA.

Donald Trump is pro business. Pro in the British, not American, sense of the word.

Please don’t tell me that!

I’ll be brief here.

  • Tangerine (formerly ING Direct) just informed me that their foreign exchange rate charge is moving from 2% to 2.5%. I didn’t know it was best in class; now it isn’t. Please don’t tell me that.
  • Panasonic. Apparently they are going to reduce their digital camera efforts. I have several Panasonic digital cameras. I like them very much. The latest improvement was exactly what I wished-to-God they would do: a better, faster, longer zoom than the FZ18 with a much better EVF and weatherproofing. They did it. Now they may stop innovating.
    Please don’t tell me that.
  • Scarborough subway and John Tory. Apparently he’s got better numbers talking to ‘lots of people’ than real studies. The one-stop subway is imho an enormous boondoggle Tory hasn’t the guts to stop. His numbers are imho nonsense.
    Please don’t try to tell me that.
  • Vaughan Go station and John Tory. This comes out of the Smart Track budget. It will actually increase driver traffic. This is because the delay caused by an unnecessary stop will cause some 3% of current Go users to revert to their cars. So, we’re paying (out of a limited, almost non-existent traffic budget) for a stop that makes Tory Smart Track look like it’s on track. Which will increase vehicle traffic.
    Please don’t tell me that.

Person of Interest: John Tory, two out of four.


Knowledge is power. (Possibly Francis Bacon).

Information is power. imho, and I’m sure you agree. Logical from the above, eh?    Therefore,

Misinformation is power.

The person of interest here is, as it often is, Donald Trump. Apparently tweeting is power. Sometimes (but not, imho, reliably) Executive Orders are power. Alternative Facts are power. Pointing out quote marks (on two of four tweets claiming to have been bugged at Trump Tower by the Obama administration) is, apparently, sound enough misinformation to stabilize power. And to continue the misinformation … everywhere online and on TV.

Remember Spider Man’s Law. (feel free to search this blog if you don’t.)

Twitter has given Misinformation Power to …. the Apprentice. Who’s actually rather good at it.

OK, you were wondering why this is under Dumb Question. So here it is:

Any ideas out there? How can The Press (cordoned off by partisanship) or The Opposition (outnumbered) or the One Percent (somehow silent now, why??) or
anyone else
manage this tidal bore (pun intended) of misinformation?

Don’t post a comment here without the following:

  • your real eMail. I will test it if there’s anything even slightly weird about your comment. Or if it looks like garbage. Yes, I get that.
  • decent grammar, spelling, and logic. Any comment which looks like it went through a synonym generator will be ignored. Yes, I get that too.
  • only sensible hotlinks. or no hotlinks. cannabis and porn sites are not imho sensible. Yes, I get those too.  sigh.


Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State

Here you will find that Donald Trump’s Secretary of State thinks military action against North Korea is worth threatening. This because of North Korea’s missile and nuclear development programs.

The US is hoping that China will help rein in North Korea. In fact, China has recently stopped buying coal from the North, which is a major source of revenue for the country.

However, the US has continued to annoy China, in particular by deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in South Korea. China views this as spying on it.

So, here we have another potential ‘finger on the trigger’ of ‘conflict.’

This is the same Rex Tillerson who used a second, alias, eMail to comment on climate change while at EXXON. (Tillerson is the former head of EXXON Mobile, and spent some 40 years working there.) I’ll give you a pointer and a quote.

Eric Schneiderman says Mr Tillerson used an account named “Wayne Tracker” for at least seven years. Wayne is Mr Tillerson’s middle name. Mr Schneiderman is investigating whether Exxon misled investors and the public about climate change.

Given the Trump trumpeting about Hilary Clinton’s private eMail server, this looks just as self-serving.

No dumb questions today. Just ask yourself,

Do I trust this administration?